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Finding Emotional Stability: The Storm before the Calm

Finding Emotional Stability:  The Storm before the Calm

Like it or not, things often get worse before they get better.  A tickle in your throat can be the first sign that a cold is on its way.  Hitting your arm or leg usually results in swelling, then bruising, and finally it heals.  The same is true in regards to our emotional stability.  I hate to break it to you, but we don’t pop out of the womb emotionally stable individuals.  If you’re seen a toddler in the midst of a temper tantrum, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Or how about the adolescent who boldly refuses to follow the advice of parents or guardians.  It’s easy to get frustrated by the storm, but instead let’s consider 5 benefits of the storm that are necessary in order to reach the stability and calm we desire.

storm27707/Pixabay.com

1. Provides a Much Needed Wake-up Call

Most of us live extremely busy lives and often only have time to deal with priorities.  Emotional health doesn’t always make the priority list.  However, a lack of emotional stability CAN derail us more than we realize.  Just think about those mornings when you don’t feel like getting out of bed.  Or when you can’t bear dealing with a problematic relationship so you choose to stay home.  Perhaps even when we decline an invitation because of the unwanted consequences it may bring.

Emotional instability provides the wake-up call we need.  Those with anxiety issues will tell you that when they can’t sit still or sleep well, health becomes a priority.  Likewise, someone suffering with depression is desperate for an energy boost and motivation.  And anyone who experiences anger outbursts leaves an aftermath of destruction that craves peace and calm.  Sometimes, our problems are warnings.  Imagine hearing words through a megaphone announcing, “This is not a test!  This is a real warning that change is needed and it is needed now!”

2. Gives Us a Gentle Push in the Right Direction

While wake-up calls are an important part of emotional health, too much of a good thing usually doesn’t help.  The megaphone approach might help might once in a while, but who wants to hear that on a regular basis?  In fact, an approach that is too strong can have the opposite effect and result in no action at all.

It’s often that gentle nudge or push in the right direction that has longer lasting results.  Have you ever seen the look on a parent’s face when they need to discipline a child but can’t.  The child may never hear the words, “knock it off.”  But they sure can feel them!  When we start to become unsettled by negative emotions, ask yourself if this is like mom or dad’s “look” gently pushing in a better direction.

3. Allows Potential Friends & Lovers to See the Truth

When we make purchases in life, we often wonder if something is worth the price.  Will this tool last a day, a year, or a lifetime?  If we knew how long it would last, we could be more certain of how much we are willing to pay for it.  But, since most of us lack the ability to see into the future, it becomes guesswork.

The same can be true of engaging in new relationships.  Whether it a new friend or a potential lover, we would love to see what the future holds but usually can’t.  So, once again, we’re left with guesswork.  And it doesn’t help that in the beginning of relationships, people often hide their true selves.  They tend to show the other person what they want to see.

Emotional outbursts in a potential friend or lover allow us to see beneath the surface.  They do allow us to peek into the future.  They take away some of the guesswork.  This is not always a bad thing, but it does tell us how a person handles stress.  Do they start crying or shut down?  Do they begin yelling, cursing, or throwing objects?  Does some type of verbal or physical abuse begin?  While it might not be pretty, it’s better to know what you’re dealing with and the storm can definitely provide needed insight.

4. Creates Motivating Memories

Remember the time that xyz happened?  Unfortunately, we all have some memories that we would rather NOT remember.  Those times when we lost our cool.  Or those times when we majorly embarrassed ourselves saying something we should not have.

Those bad memories can actually be motivating at times.  They serve to remind us what types of behavior we don’t want to repeat.  I recall assuming that someone had decided I wasn’t worth his or her time.  When actually they were in the midst of a personal crisis and couldn’t muster up the energy for anyone.  That experience has caused me to give people the benefit of the doubt and not assume.  I now verify facts before jumping to conclusions most of the time.

5. Develops the Skills Needed to Help Others

“It’s not all about you!”  Although we may not like hearing those words, they are true.  Every problem we have or lesson we learn is not just for our benefit.  Life experiences are often meant to be used to benefit others.  Once we have learned to overcome a particular downfall, we are equipped to help others do the same.  My experiences struggling with depression have often helped others struggling with it too.

Some people go as far as writing a book or officially changing their career in order to help others.  Such extreme measures are not always necessary though.  Pick up a phone and call a friend who has been having a rough time.  Be willing to talk with someone you run into who is experiencing a difficulty.  You’ll be amazed at how the right people just happen to cross paths with you when you have what they need.

Reflection Questions

  1.  Are you struggling with emotional stability today?  If so, could this be a sign that something needs to change?
  2. Do you have any memories that motivate you NOT to do something again?
  3. Does someone need to hear your story so that they can be helped with a similar problem?

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5 Reasons Why We Were Not Designed to Be Alone: Even Though We Recharge Differently

5 Reasons Why We Were Not Designed to Be Alone:  Even Though We Recharge Differently

Being alone sure has its pros and cons, doesn’t it?  When the kids are screaming, our spouse is angry, or the boss takes out personal problems on us, being left alone sounds wonderful.  On the other hand, spend too much time alone and you’ll soon be craving human connection.  Caregivers of small children often tell us how much they desire adult conversation after a day filled with goo goo gaa gaa.  Deciding how much human interaction you need is easier than you might think.  Let’s look at 5 reasons why we were not designed to be alone, even though each of us needs a different amount of time with other people.  But first, we need to talk about what being an extrovert or an introvert has to do with this.

friendsPhil Coffman/ Unsplash.com

The Extrovert-Introvert Perspective

The first thing that came to my mind when thinking about human interaction is the difference between introverts and extroverts.  It’s easy to see that some people are much more comfortable in social situations than others are.  Some people love being in the spotlight, getting attention, and the partying life style, whereas others prefer to settle in with a good book by the fire on a Friday night.

According to The Myers & Briggs Foundation, we all spend time in life both extraverting and introverting.  You may have a desk job where you do the majority of your work alone, but need to give group presentations once a month.  You need to pick up your extrovert hat to give a good presentation, but you do it because it’s your job.  Perhaps your job put you in the public eye on a regular basis and you love it.  But when the weekend comes, you need time away from people in order to refuel for the week ahead.  And you couldn’t bear to attend one more social event.

The main point here is that regardless of your natural tendencies, your personality, or where your daily work places you, each of need time both with and away from other people.  The key is balancing your needs with the needs of others around you.  Learning to do that well, will always provide the best outcome.  Now let’s dive into those 5 reasons why we were not designed to be alone.

The key is balancing your needs with the needs of others around you. Click To Tweet

1.  Learning from Each Other

Even though there are plenty of people out there who think they know it all and don’t have anything else to learn, that’s simply not true.  I’ve had the honor of working alongside some of the best minds in the country in my academic nursing jobs.  At every meeting, there is always someone who brings a new perspective to the table that no one else thought of.  That’s not by accident folks, that’s how it was meant to be.

We need someone in the room looking out for the underdog, just like we need someone looking at things from a realistic perspective.  It benefits the team to have people with different passions, talents, and gifts on it.  Like the Bible says, we are each part of one body and we need all the parts.  I have a tendency to be the foot in teams; I kick people into action.  No, I don’t make a habit of kicking people, but I do help them move in the right direction through healthy motivation and inspiration.  That’s reason #1 of why need relations with other, we learn from each other.

2.  Helping Each Other

The second reason is that we can’t do everything alone.  For example, you can’t get into graduate school without good recommendations from former teachers, colleagues, and bosses.  In fact, today I will be writing a grad school recommendation for a former student.  You just can’t be the applicant and the recommender at the same time.  During a recent job search, I was the one in need of recommendations from others.  I would not have gotten a job without them.

This doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do things alone.  If you have the time and physical stamina to clean your home, you don’t need the football team to come over and help.  But, if you need a pipe repaired over a holiday weekend and you don’t have a clue how to fix pipes, then calling a friend may be your best bet.  Of course, there are no hard and fast rules about when we should have help and when we should work alone.  Sometimes hiring a professional is the better choices, other times the DIY (do it yourself) approach is the way to go.  Use wise judgment and know when to call in your support systems.

3.  Use It or Lose It

Hearing this title, you’re probably thinking about muscle strength or being mentally sharp.  But we’re actually talking about social skills here.  We can actually forget how and lose our comfort level with communicating effectively with others if we rarely do it.  For example, if you work in an environment that tends to separate employees for better productivity, you learn to work alone.  Then if you get a new job where the staff celebrates birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, and holidays together, you won’t know how to act.  Do I need to bring a store-bought cake or a homemade cake for my birthday buddy’s special day?  Does it even matter?  What if my birthday buddy is on a diet, do I still bring cake, or do I go for a fruit bowl?  I’m sure you get the point.

The same principle is true for people who lose a significant other though death or divorce.  If your last date was 50+ years ago, how do you know if it’s ok to text someone out instead of asking them out?  Or does texting count as asking?  Do phone calls still matter?  Honestly, I don’t know these answers either, since I haven’t been in the dating market for about 30 years now!  But, one never knows do they.  Either my spouse or I could find ourselves in those shoes once again with very little warning.  I hope you can google these questions and find good answers if or when the time ever comes.

4.  Steers You in the Right Direction

I’m sure we have all heard horror stories about kids getting in with the wrong crowd.  They end up hanging out with deadbeats and start taking drugs, or alcohol.  But going in the wrong direction is not reserved just for young people; fully-grown adults are susceptible too.  If you’re home alone, feeling left out, you’re more likely to drink alone.  If your loneliness leads to depression, you may attempt to self-medicate on a daily basis.  You may even become suicidal if you feel disconnected from the rest of the world.

Most of have at least one friend or close acquaintance that is not afraid to call us out if we veer too far off path.  I’ve often been that person in people’s lives and I must admit it’s not an easy place to be in.  It breaks my heart to see people I care about making bad choices.  And I’ve struggled with letting them make their own decisions when I see this happening.  As much as I believe people can and should make their own choices, a choice to jump off a cliff is not acceptable in my eyes.  I’m still learning to balance the two extremes of caring too much and not caring at all.  I am hopeful that I will do better as more opportunities arise to practice my newly learned skill.

5.  You Could Live Longer

Having good quality interpersonal relationships can actually help you live longer.  We are created to be social people and when that need is met, we end up healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually too.  A feeling of loneliness causes stress hormones to rise, our immune system function to decrease, and our cardiovascular system is under higher demands.  I do want to point out that a feeling of loneliness is not the same as truly being alone.  A person can feel lonely in a crowd or a small group.  On the other hand, a person can feel totally connected in online gaming with friends who are not even in the same room.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

Research has shown that being involved with a church helps people live longer.  It’s not because of the holy water or the fellowship dinners.  It’s because in a church people feel connected on several different levels.  They feel connected to the people they see each week and share a space with regularly.  They also feel connected to the larger church denomination, which consists of people doing the same thing in other locations.  Protestants or Catholics meeting in Philadelphia can feel connected in this way to similar denominations meeting in other cities across the world.  And lastly, church members feel connected to God.  The church denomination is not relevant, provided that the church members view God in the same way.  We bond with each, we bond with God, and we often live longer.

Reflection Questions

  1.  How much time do you spend alone as compared with other people?  Does this seem to fit you personality and needs best?
  2.  Which of the 5 reasons listed above was most interesting to you?
  3. Do you know someone who you could encourage today that is not well balanced in terms of how much time they spend with other human beings?

References

Extraversion and Introversion.  The Myers & Briggs Foundation.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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